It’s official – barring a weather delay – the China trade war will commence tomorrow at 1230pm ET when President Trump will sign an executive order unleashing $50 billion worth of tariffs over Intellectual Property (IP) violations.
American officials have been raising their concerns about China’s IP practices since Bill Clinton was president, and Beijing has repeatedly failed to deliver on promises to reform, but now, as Bloomberg reports that the order will target more than 100 different types of Chinese goods, according to a person familiar with the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The value of the tariffs was based on U.S. estimates of economic damage caused by intellectual-property theft by China, the person said.
“Tomorrow the president will announce the actions he has decided to take based on USTR’s 301 investigation into China’s state-led, market-distorting efforts to force, pressure, and steal U.S. technologies and intellectual property,” White House official Raj Shah said in an emailed statement on Wednesday.
This will be Trump’s first trade action directly aimed at China, which he has blamed for the hollowing out of the American manufacturing sector and the loss of U.S. jobs.
For decades, western companies have griped that Beijing is forcing them to hand over tech secrets and source code as a price of access to the Chinese market.
Now they have a White House prepared to act forcefully to stop it – starting tomorrow, Axios’ Jonathan Swan reports – but the fear is a costly tit-for-tat trade war.
But China is drawing up a reprisal list that includes soybeans, sorghum and live hogs, report the WSJ’s Lingling Wei, Yoko Kubota and Liza Lin.
Finally, as a reminder, China will begin trading its petroyuan futures contract next week (3/26) – so perhaps this action by Trump is a pre-emptive strike?